'Wonky vegetables' should not be wasted, say British MPs

Indo Asian News Service

London, May 1 (IANS) Supermarkets should not reject "wonky vegetables" simply because they are not a perfect shape, British MPs have urged.

Food worth over $13 billion is thrown away by households every year, much of it simply because it looks unusual, Xinhua news agency quoted a report by Parliament's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee as saying on Sunday.

"It's ridiculous that perfectly good vegetables are wasted simply because they're a funny shape. Farmers supplying fruits and vegetables to British supermarkets currently get their produce rejected on the grounds that it fails to meet cosmetic quality standards set by the big retailers," Chairman of the committee Neil Parish said.

"Knobbly carrots and parsnips don't cook or taste any different. It's high time we saved them from the supermarket reject bins," he added.

To drive efforts to reduce the food waste, the committee has called on the government to establish a national food waste reduction target.

MPs who sit on the committee say it is socially a scandal that people are going hungry and using food banks when so much produce is being wasted.

"We welcome the will shown by retailers to redistribute surplus food. However, we believe that more must be done. There is a huge amount of surplus food that is currently not being redistributed," the report said.

The MPs want awareness of food waste to start at an early age, calling on the government to introduce lessons on food and food waste into school curriculum.

The incoming government should continue with a review on food date labelling, looking particularly at whether there is a need for "best before" dates, which can mislead and confuse people, the committee suggested.

"The best thing we can do is to prevent raw materials, ingredients and products from becoming waste in the first place," Neil Parish said.

According to the chairperson, ending the food waste in incineration or landfill without energy recovery is the worst way to deal with it.

He suggested redistribution, animal feed as better options, and recycling through anaerobic digestion or composting as a way when it has to be thrown away.

--IANS

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